Camiguin Tourist Spots & Things To Do on Camiguin in the Philippines
From day 1 our Camiguin adventure was an interesting experience. As the days rolled by and we cruised around the island visiting popular tourist spots, we realized that we rarely met any western faces. Even at the popular tourist attractions, like the 70 meter Katibawasan waterfall, there was just 1 local family. No doubt that Camiguin is still an off-the-beaten-track destination and is just waiting to be explored.
Camiguin is known for the large concentration of volcanos. There are 7 volcanos on Camiguin (however only 1 is still considered active) which is impressive when you consider the size of the island. Cruising along Camiguin’s highlands with mountains on either side, vantage points that peeped out through the jungle looking onto the naked White Island and leading us along charming villages and to beautiful waterfalls. There is a list of things to do in Camiguin which will keep you occupied for days. It just so happens, some of Camiguin’s best tourist attractions are so unique. Such as a sunken cemetery, a church ruins and the 1 meter giant clams.
Camiguin is one of the Philippines’ less explored islands. And is surprisingly very easy to reach. With its airport that receives direct flights from Manila and Cebu, and a ferry departing every day from the nearby island Bohol, you could be on Camiguin within just a few hours.
This guide will list the things to do on Camiguin. We spent 1 week exploring the island at an easy pace and 2 days were rainy. So anything between 3 and 5 days is good depending on your style of going about things.
Where to stay in Camiguin
Before we get into all the fun things, I will go through the best area to stay in Camiguin. This won’t take long since Camiguin has yet to be influenced by tourism and there is only 1 tourist area.
Camiguin tourist area is in Mambajao in North Camiguin. However, Mambajao is a large municipality. If you want restaurants, resorts, sunset bars and tour organizers within walking distance, look for accommodation near the White Island ferry terminal. This is where the largest concentration of tourist amenities are located.
Camiguin is already, in itself, a laid back destination. But if you want to go even more off the grid, you can find accommodation dotted all around the island. If you do choose this option you will be limited on places to eat, just keep that in mind.
Cruise Around Camiguin by Scooter
To really get a sense of orientation and figure out your surroundings, there is no better way than to cruise around the island on your own 2 wheels. Although riding a scooter on a tropical island and far from popular hot spots may not be an actual tourist spot, it is no doubt an amazing experience. We did this first thing in the morning on the following day of our arrival. It was a rainy morning and after few hiccups of showers here and there, the day finally cleared up. And what a day. Camiguin is such a chill island. Streets were almost empty and every village we passed by, kids would be playing around and chickens and goats roamed freely. Sometimes even cows and pigs.
Camiguin has only 1 main road, the ring road. We took 2 hours to cruise all the way around the island. We stopped to take note of attractions that we saw. Made deviations into charming seaside villages. Saw a family of adorable little piglets. And waved to dozens of kids that were on their way to school. This scooter ride was definitely a great introduction to Camiguin.
Tuasan is a powerful waterfall wedged between mountains in a municipality named Catarman. From Mambajao tourist area it will take 45 minutes to ride up to the waterfall. The fall is located on the side of the road that splits across the island and is one of Camiguin’s must visit tourist spots.
It turns out that Tuasan is so easily accessed that we only came across it by chance while riding around the island. And is wedged between mountains on the side of the only street that splits across the island. If you pass from this road, you are bound to see the entrance. A big Tuasan Falls sign in the parking area marks the jumping off point. From this point there is 3-minute walk along a paved path and you will be facing this beautiful cascade.
The ticket booth is on the way in, and entrance fee is 50 pesos (€0.90). Once we paid our tickets it took about 2 or 3 minutes and we were already looking at a beautiful waterfall. First thing we noticed was the 20 meter cascade and a pool with hints of blue iconic to the Philippines. Tropical trees and plants surround the fall, pool and smaller pool. The first pool is the biggest and is about shoulder deep. Perfect for a good swim in chilly water.
Taking an early morning ferry over to White Island sandbar is the best activity in Camiguin. It only takes 10 minutes on an outrigger boat for you to be sinking your feet into the island’s white sand. And if you come here early enough, you will get what will seem like your own private little island. Mornings are the best time to avoid any crowds and you will also get the perfect light for photography.
In fact, we went to White Island in the morning. It was still dark when we set out of our accommodation. And as the day started to brighten up, we were already on the boat. Sunrise from White Island is amazing. And the view looking onto Camiguin island gives a perspective of how mountainous the place is.
We arrived on White Island and not a sole was around. This sandbar is rather small. But it took us about 10 minutes to cross since our feet kept sinking deep into the white sand. Fishermen started coming. All had bamboo baskets with fresh sea urchins. For 100 Pesos (€1.80) I got 6 urchins. It was like an explosion of sea in my mouth. Not the kind of food I would usually choose for breakfast but was definitely interesting.
Crystal clear water surround white island. We could actually see all the corals on the seabed, that is how clear it is. However, the choppy sea conditions weren’t ideal and we decided not to swim. Not to mention, that the morning breeze was rather cold and it also rained at some point.
Keep in mind that White Island is naked. There are no trees, or anywhere protected from the sun. You can rent umbrellas from the island itself but I’m not sure on the price or how many the guy will have.
Katibawasan is an impressive waterfall just 20 minutes ride away from the touristic area of Mambajao. It just so happens that is the highest waterfall on Camiguin and also the highest cascade of water that we came across in the Philippines. And reaching the fall was just as amazing. We cruised along dense jungle nestling away charming villages. Kids were playing in the deserted streets and dogs were as usual just strolling around without a care in the world.
We arrived at Katibawasan an hour or so before closing time. Just 1 car was in the parking lot. We paid the 50 Pesos (€0.90) entrance and made our way down the few stairs that lead through a pretty garden of tropical plants and vegetation. As we had thought there was only 1 family, and after a few photographs they too left. Having this stunning fall all to ourselves was amazing. A 70 meter waterfall cascades into crystal clear pool of water. No doubt this invited us to take a dip. And although the water was chilly, we still decided to take a plunge without a care in the world. Most of the pool is chest deep so you can actually walk. But the closer we got to the fall the deeper it got.
Walkway to the Old Volcano
The walkway to the Old Volcano is a one of Camiguin’s religious sites. All along the way dioramas that are called stations depict Christ’s crucification, death and finally his resurrection. Even if you’re not into such religious activities, the walkway is interesting and offers views looking down onto the ocean and all the surrounding landscape. I would say the trek is an easy one. Part of the way is paved but at certain point turns into a wide dirt path. There are 14 stations which splits the trek up into a mild enjoyable activity. And once you reach the top you will be greeted with a beautiful viewpoint.
If you’re adventurous, fit and are into a challenge, before you reach the 12th station there is a path. If you take this trail it will lead you to the top of Mount Vulcan. This is an activity for those who are fit. We were considering this trek but the previous rainy days made the path all muddy and slippery which would of been dangerous. We decided to give this a miss and only made it to the last station.
Camiguin’s Sunken Cemetary is a unique tourist spot on the island. You can combine this attraction with the Walkway to the Old Volcano. The Sunken Cemetary is testimony of how powerful mother nature can be. What was once a resting place for the dead along the coast of Camiguin, has now been forced under water. This rather unusual tourist spot came to be back in 1870. After a volcanic activity that shook Camiguin, the cemetary that was on land was submerged into the ocean.
Today, tombstones lay along the ocean bed. Marine life has flourished and taken over the cemetery. And a large Christian cross has been erected in the ocean as a remembrance to the dead. The sunken cemetery is around 50 meters from shore. Although I would say anyone with basic swimming skills could do this activity alone, you will still need to pay for a guide. However, the guide will be helpful at indicating where everything is.
Old Spanish Church Ruins
On Camiguin there are a few attractions that are testimony of the volcano’s destructive power. And the Old Spanish Church Ruins or Guiob Church is one of them. You can add this tourist spot with the sunken cemetary and the trail to the old volcano. All 3 are about 5 minutes ride from one another.
In the grounds of the church there are 3 structures. We first past through the church itself. A massive church for that time. All the surrounding walls are intact. However, the wooden roof is no more. And outside the church building there are another 2 small buildings. For the small fee, it is worth to stop by. But I said to add this with the other 2 activities not to travel all the way for just 1 tourist spot.